Dmitriy Salita

"Star of David"

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Statistics
Real name Dmitry Aleksandrovich Lekhtman
Nickname(s) Star of David
Rated at Junior welterweight
Nationality Flag of Ukraine Ukranian
Birth date April 4, 1982 (1982-04-04) (age 26)
Birth place Odessa, Soviet Union
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 29
Wins 28
Wins by KO 16
Losses 0
Draws 1
No contests 0

Dmitry Salita (Russian: Дмитрий Салита; "Star of David"; born April 4, 1982) is a Ukrainian undefeated boxer in the junior welterweight division.

He has a 28-0-1 record, with 16 KOs.[1] He is 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m), and his reach is 69".[2]

He is a practicing Orthodox Jew, and does not fight on the Sabbath or Jewish holidays.[1]

 Early life

Born in Odessa, Ukraine as Dmitry Aleksandrovich Lekhtman, Salita moved with his family to Flatbush, Brooklyn, at the age of nine. His father, Aleksander Lekhtman, was an engineer; his late mother, Lyudmila Salita, was an accountant. He has one brother, Mikhail. He uses his mother's maiden name as his professional name.

He said: “Basically, we came to America because Jews were discriminated against. My parents thought that my brother and I wouldn’t grow up with the opportunity to be the best that we could be. My brother, who is nine years older then I am, used to get into a lot of fights, because he was often called names. There were rumors of pogrom every now and then, and Jews would go away to the suburbs from the city. ‘Pogrom’ means that groups of people would break into homes and bash the house. I remember that my father bought a gun just in case something was to happen. It was very difficult to get top jobs or to go to top schools and still remain proud of your Judaism. I am very grateful to America for letting me pursue my goals, and have freedom of religion and speech. You don’t normally appreciate it, but when you don’t have it, you understand just how great it is to have it. Now that I am older, I understand it.”[2][3]

In New York, classmates picked on Salita in school. He said, “When I first started going to school, I had the clothes that I wore over in Russia. I used to get made fun of because of it, and the fact that I didn’t speak English. I had to learn how to defend myself. I got involved in karate, and as time went on my brother brought me to a boxing club. That is how it all started. I got called into the principal’s office. I got suspended a few times, but I got my respect. I started kicking some ass at school.” [4]

 Boxing career

 
“My gym’s like a league of nations. I seen every kind of kid come through the doors, but I ain’t never seen one like this Dmitriy. Kid looks Russian, prays Jewish, and fights Black. [5]
— Jimmy O'Pharrow

He started boxing at the age of 13 at the Starrett City Boxing Club, which is run by Jimmy O’Pharrow.[6] Among others, he trained with Zab Judah.

Salita said, “Jimmy runs an old school gym, a ghetto gym. My style isn’t European. It isn’t even American. It’s a city style. It’s Black. I don’t know how else to say it. But some of us White boys got it like that.” [7]

The radio at Starrett was always tuned to HOT 97; Salita described it as “Blasting. A lot of Biggie. A lot of Tupac. I think that changed my style. That’s what gave me some rhythm.” [8]

 Amateur career

Salita had an amateur record of 59-5. When he was 16, he represented New York in the Junior Olympics and won a bronze medal. "I thought, 'I'm ranked in America as a boxer.' That's when I really felt like an American," he said.[3]

At the 2001 New York Golden Gloves, he won the championship at 139 pounds. Salita won the finals on 4-5-01 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Bill Farrell of the New York Daily News reported, “In a bout that lived up to all its expectations, Dmitriy Salita battled past Joey Rios to win the Golden Gloves 139-pound open title last night at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. The 3-2 decision won by Salita in as fine a boxing match ever staged in the Golden Gloves finals earned Salita the Sugar Ray Robinson Award as the outstanding boxer in the tournament. Salita, who is as talented as they come, got into his rhythm midway through Round 2, and finally took control of the bout to earn the decision and a pair of Golden Gloves.”[9]

Salita said, “You know, with me growing up in New York, the New York Golden Gloves is a big, big deal. A lot of the great fighters that have come out of New York have all managed to win the Golden Gloves. The Golden Gloves in New York is like the Olympic games, everyone knows about it. You really get your respect after you win the New York Golden Gloves. I thought that it was an important step, and that it would boost my professional career. Plus, I was just dying to have those Golden Gloves around my neck.”[10]

 Pro career

He turned pro at the age of 19, in the summer of 2001.[1] He signed a contract with Las Vegas-based promoter Bob Arum, whose Top Rank stable of fighters has included George Foreman, Larry Holmes, and Oscar De La Hoya.[3]

On August 25, 2005, Salita captured the North American Boxing Association light welterweight championship by downing Shawn Gallegos with a 9th round TKO.[4]

Salita remained in contention for a junior welterweight title bout, extending his unbeaten streak to 28, with a unanimous 10-round decision over Grover Wiley at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York in March 2007. Salita staggered Wiley (30-9-1) with a series of body punches in the 7th round.[11]

 Style

He is a sharp, accurate puncher with good handspeed. He is also relentless.[3]

 Family

His mother, Lyudmila, originally opposed Dmitriy’s boxing, but eventually became an enthusiastic supporter. She died in January 1999, after a two-year battle with breast cancer. When she was hospitalized, Salita divided his time between James Madison High School, the Starrett gym, and Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital. He said, “I’d spend the night sleeping in a chair at the hospital and wake up to do my roadwork.” [12]

 Jewish heritage

 
“I enjoy being different. People are surprised at how good the White, Jewish kid is, surprised that I can fight. I take that as a compliment.”[13]
— Dmitriy Salita

After he moved to Brooklyn, he was exposed to Orthodox Judaism and became an observant Jew. He strictly follows Jewish law –if he has a fight on a Saturday, it must begin after sundown, the end of the sabbath. He said, “Anyone who wants a good whuppin’ from me is just going to have to wait until sundown.” There are as many as 70 Jewish holy days on which he will not fight, and he follows Jewish dietary laws. When he’s training, he stays within walking distance of a synagogue for Friday and Saturday services, and he does not drive on the sabbath.[2]

Promoter Bob Arum said, “If he’s as good as it appears he is, and he can be held up as an example of religious devotion to both Jews and gentiles, he’ll be a great attraction.” [14]

Salita said, “I will never compromise my beliefs. Never. It’s not a question. I have a personal relationship with God that I won’t compromise. My boxing is such a big part of my life, but it won’t get in the way of my religion. It can’t, and it won’t.” [15]

Salita is one of three top Jewish boxers in July 2008, the others being Roman Greenberg, the undefeated heavyweight (27-0-0), and Yuri Foreman the undefeated middleweight (26-0-0). Salita enters the ring to Yiddish rap. [16]

 Movies

Orthodox Stance, a Jason Hutt-directed documentary of Salita's career to date (2007) and his life as an Orthodox Jew, received its world premiere at the 2007 Silverdocs Documentary Festival and had its second showing and West Coast premiere at the 2007 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival as part of an evening devoted to Jewish boxers. Both Salita and director Hutt participated in a panel discussion following the presentation.

He was offered a small role in an HBO boxing movie, "Infamous", as a fighter who loses a match against the film's protagonist, played by John Leguizamo. Salita turned down the part. "It was tempting, but if I did that, a lot of people who never saw me fight would see me lose."[3]

 Trivia

His mentor is Rabbi Zalman Liberow of Flatbush, Brooklyn.[citation needed]

Dmitrty's Hebrew name is David.